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Last week I published an article about how to pick which ‘hotspots’ (mind, body, emotions, career, finances, relationships, fun) to invest your time and energy into.
There was one section of that article that I removed shortly before I hit ‘Publish’, because I wanted to keep the article as short and impactful as possible. I still want to share it with you because I think it’s very valuable. The section is about how you should invest not only in hotspots that will benefit you in the short-term, but also in hotspots that will provide you with returns in the long-term. It’s discouraging to invest in hotspots that don’t provide you with a strong, immediate reward, but that doesn’t mean the hotspots are less valuable.
Clayton Christensen put it nicely in an article in the Harvard Business Review when he said:1
“When people who have a high need for achievement … have an extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, they’ll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. … In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. … It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, ‘I raised a good son or a good daughter.’ You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.”2
Meier, the author of Getting Results the Agile Way and the originator of the ‘hotspot’ idea, appears to agree with Christensen. “By investing across your hot spots, you keep your life in balance and you invest in yourself in the long run”.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, putting out fires all day long, and never focusing on the forest instead of the trees. But when so much meaning and happiness comes from the hotspots in your life that are less urgent (but more important), when you put out fires all day, you likely aren’t focusing on what’s the most important. That’s why the hotspot model can be so valuable; because it forces you to focus on areas of your life that are easy to neglect.
I’m relatively young, so I don’t have the perspective of time to speak with authority on this, but from the people I’ve talked to and the research I’ve done, investing your time and energy across as many hotspots as possible is one of the most rewarding ways to live.
Interestingly, Christensen also wrote about how businesses fail for the exact same reason. “If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.” ↩